Saturday, December 18, 2010

Incredible Shrinking Greens

Given the frequency with which I prepare greens, you'd think I'd be used to the shrinkage by now. But it never ceases to amaze me. What appears to be enough greens to feed an army (when raw) ends up being this tiny pile of tender yumminess. Just for fun I took a before and after picture of the turnip greens I made the other night:


And after:

Pretty amazing, right?

I used to be intimidated by greens. I didn't grow up with them (except for frozen spinach or spinach salad), and they just seemed unfamiliar. Plus, the first few tries often yielded a stringy, chewy mess. By asking questions over the years (as in, "how did you prepare these amazing greens?"), reviewing cookbooks, and trial and error, greens frighten me no longer. And it's a good thing because they're SO healthy and cheap and mild tasting.

When you're not following a recipe or not sure what to do with fresh greens, I recommend simmering about a cup of vegetable broth or water per pound of greens, then add the greens, mixing them around frequently (good tongs are a must!!). After a few minutes, taste them. Still too chewy? Cook some more. When they're good and tender, remove from heat. Then add them to another dish, like a tofu scramble, bean dish, grain dish, stir fry, whatever. Or just throw on your fave seasonings and serve as is. It's that easy.

The greens pictured here ultimately became smothered with garlic and black bean sauce, added to sauteed onions and veggie chicken strips, served over brown rice. The dinner took about 10 minutes to make (this time I used quick-cooking brown rice because I was in a hurry; I keep some in the pantry for such emergencies). I used pre-washed, pre-chopped Glory Greens, which are becoming easier and easier to find (they come in big orange bags in the produce section of the supermarket).

A few months ago I tasted the most incredible kale at a health food store in Morristown, NJ. I asked the cook how on Earth they got so amazing, and I was told that the kale was first steamed, then marinated all day long in the sauce. What a concept! I'm going to try that next.

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